The Liverpool Playhouse opened its new season with a production of a show seen as one of the great American plays of the 20th Century.
Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize winning play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ was directed by Gemma Bodinetz, the Playhouse and Everyman’s own artistic director.
Set in New Orleans two years after the Second World War, the story brings together Stella and her Polish husband Stanley Kowalski with Stella’s sister Blanche DuBois.
As the plot unfolds, we see how Stella and Stanley keep themselves going despite the poverty that surrounds them. This was very much reflected in the set design as the action was based in a small, oppressive apartment with lighting that emphasised the heat-laden surroundings.
A pregnant Stella becomes subject to domestic violence at the hands of her drunken and abusive husband, Stanley.
While Blanche, a fading Southern belle, is riddled with her own issues after being left to deal with their parents’ deaths, discovering that her husband was gay and dealing with his tragic suicide.
The stand-out performances undoubtedly came from Amanda Drew as Blanche and Sam Troughton as Stanley.
Drew’s Blanche was perfectly balanced. A confident woman with flickers of humour, contrasted beautifully with the vulnerability and insecurity she portrayed, as the play moved forward.
As she was stripped away, we learnt more about her dependency on men and her need to be validated by them. They, we come to understand, enable her to forge an identity as a woman.
Troughton was authoritative, domineering and frighteningly violent, as he frequently strutted, chest-puffed out around the stage.
We were given glimpses of his sensitivity when he felt regretful for his abusive actions. But as violence was the main thrust of his character, this was brought to our attention constantly and made for uncomfortable viewing throughout the performance.
Overall, a fantastic play, one that was extremely powerful and evocative. A great choice to kick start the new theatrical season at the Playhouse.